In a world full of uncertainties, we all need effective coping strategies to manage our stress levels and keep our lives on track. The concept of self-care helps to relieve stress and anxiety and nurture positivity. By integrating self-care activities into your routine, you can strengthen your mood and mental health and reduce the physical toll of stress.
Good nutrition can also play a role in self-care. Eating well is another strategy to build your resilience and help you find your genes.
Research shows that eating well can profoundly affect our knowledge, concentration, mood and stress levels. Thus, it is clear that food nourishes not only the body but also the brain.
Nutrition and stress
Stress triggers our body to release a series of hormones – often referred to as “fight or flight” mode – to prepare our body to handle what it perceives as a “threat” to the hand. These include raising our blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar levels which can be prime to work.
Although our bodies can cope with short-term stress, when we constantly lead a stressful life, our ability to thwart stress responses becomes exhausted. It can cause us to feel lazy, run and reach for regular energy-dense meals as our body seeks a rapid increase in energy.
Candy, potato crisps, cookies and the like can give us a burst of energy in the short term; However, metabolic reactions can cause our blood sugar to rise. Fluctuations in blood sugar can make us feel more tired and lazy. Choosing long-term, regularly processed, nutritious-poor foods can limit intestinal germ diversity, reduce immunity, negatively affect mood, and affect intestinal microbiome by compromising overall health.
Choosing foods that are nutritious and slowly metabolized supports wellness and helps the body build resilience. Consider fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish as well as plant-based proteins, nuts and seeds, whole grains, dairy foods and dairy alternatives.
Nutrition and mental health
New and exciting research shows that food choices can affect long-term mental health. While diet may be part of the complex mental health puzzle, it is one that we can control through our daily food choices.
It is important to note that the overall quality of our food is the most important, not the specific food or single nutrition. We need to look at nutrition as a result of our daily food choices in the long run.
Current research in nutritional psychology shows that eating a healthy diet, especially Mediterranean food, can improve mood and well-being in the long run. The Mediterranean diet consists primarily of fresh fruits and vegetables, oily fish (such as salmon, halibut and anchovies), legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. The main fat source of food comes from olive oil.
One mechanism by which food can affect the brain and mood is through the intestinal microbiome; These are the diverse “good” bacterial colonies that live in the digestive tract. The digestive system is directly linked to the brain, and studies are examining the role of food in the fight against inflammation and its role in mood and well-being. The Mediterranean diet is already established as beneficial for high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus and dementia. So, this is a win-win.
Build a healthy relationship with food
For many of us, food itself can be stressful. We are immersed in contradictory messages about what we eat, creating a feeling of helplessness towards food and our bodies. Nevertheless, reconnecting with food and rediscovering the joy of eating can also help reduce stress.
It is important to acknowledge that food is much more than a source of nutrition. It stimulates memories, fuels conversations, connects us to our culture and can take us to the other side of the world at the same time. Building a healthy relationship with food is another example of good self-care. It takes time to become a more intuitive eater, but the benefits can be redeemed.
Nutrition science is constantly evolving. Research shows that what we eat can affect every aspect of our health and well-being. Choosing mindful foods and eating to fuel our body physically and mentally can affect overall health.
There are many ways to promote good self-care. But, the next time you feel the pinch, consider a cup of tea, a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit or a tub of yogurt for a less nutritious alternative. This can help you keep eating stress at bay.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as an alternative to medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat your health problems or conditions. Always consult your doctor before changing your diet, changing your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.